Baby Skink Care Guide
By TC Houston
Congratulations on your new skinklet! This page is a brief overview of the key concepts that are important for new owners of a baby skink. When I say "baby skink" I'm referring to an animal between 2 weeks and 3 months old. Most responsible breeders, myself included, don't rehome freshly newborn animals, we wait at least 14 days after birth to transfer a baby.
This page is not comprehensive and most of your animal's husbandry elements will be addressed in my care guides below:
There are 3 key components to successful care of a baby blue tongue.
Heat. Security. Food.
#1 Proper heating is absolutely critical. Heat allows these animals to properly metabolize their food and it helps stimulate growth, activity, and most of all appetite. The number one issue new baby skink owners face is a non-eater. The number one reason their skink isn't eating is they are not warm enough or too hot.
Baby skinks must have access to a warm/hot region (1/3 of the enclosure) that reaches over 90F and a basking area that reaches 98F for Easterns and 102F for Northerns. There must be a place for them to hide within that 90F warm region. They also need cool region (1/3 of the enclosure) that gets between 72F-79F. Checking temperatures should be done with a laser temp reader (aka temp gun) not a stick on dial.
#2 Proper security is also absolutely critical. These baby reptiles are born highly vulnerable. Nearly everything in nature would be a predator or lethal threat to your baby skink. Your baby does not understand that you are a not a threat nor does it understand the concept of captivity. Therefore, your animal is programmed to need security. They need to feel safe. A blank clear-sided enclosure is not ideal.
Covering clear sides of an enclosure with paper or cardboard to provide more security is advised for at least the first few days to week. Also, adding as many hiding places and ground cover such as fake plants as possible is best practice. Your animal comes from a place where ground cover is abundant they don't feel secure when exposed. Your animal will choose security over food, so don't make them choose. Place food close to their primary hiding place so they don't have to be too exposed to eat.
#3 Proper food is vital to their well-being. Babies will do best on wet cat or dog food. Feeding crickets/meal worms/etc is like feeding a newborn human popcorn and rice cakes. Fruits at this age are like feeding human toddlers pure sugar. A good smelly wet cat or dog food is best for babies. They do not need vegetation at this stage of life. Young omnivores such as these need animal proteins more than anything which is exactly what is in wet cat or dog food. For what cat/dog foods to feed see my care guides.
Providing these things will help to ensure that your new skink will grow to be healthy and likely get comfortable with you and their new home. As skinks grow they will become more bold. Food is always a great bonding bridge to build trust. As your skink shows increasing trust (being out while you are around) that would be the time to slowly increase your engagement/handling etc.
Skink's First Week
Your skink has just had a major life change. Everything they knew of the world was changed when they came to live with you. It is very likely they will be a little bit stressed. They will need time to adjust. Here are the best practices for allowing your new animal to adjust:
- Give Privacy -
Let them discover their new environment at their pace
- Limit Exposure -
Let them adjust to their enclosure before having to see their enclosure
and the room their enclosure is in (use visual barriers)
- Limit Handling -
Depending on the individual animal, handling should be brief to absent
for the first couple days
- Monitor Closely -
Keep an eye on them but from afar or without detection
if possible. Be sure they are eating, drinking, and pooping
but be discreet
- Feed Daily -
The younger the baby the more frequent the feedings.
Remember the privacy part.
If they are a few months old, feeding every other day
is fine (see care guides)
Animal welfare is absolutely the most important part of maintaining reptiles in captivity. As reptile keepers or pet owners we are responsible for the entire lived existence of these beautiful, sentient, and intelligent creatures.
Every keeper has to start somewhere and often that start includes very basic care which is understandable. However, basic care is not the end state nor is it an acceptable stopping place for very long. Progressing up the reptile welfare chart (shown here) is not only good and appropriate it is expected. Please review this chart and take note of the very basic care guide provided below.